Fake check schemes, or advanced fee check cashing fraud, are one of the most common scams that criminals use to trick victims into giving away their hard-earned money. It's so popular that it was named the number one scam of 2009 by the National Consumers League.
The advance fee scam promises victims a larger winning for cashing a check and wiring a portion of it back, often to cover taxes on a fake lottery. When you read about this type of thing, it's easy to think that no one you know would fall for a scam like this. But when you see an authentic-looking check for close to $4,000, it's easy to understand why the trick works.
A friend recently received a letter informing him that he won $125,000 in the "Customer Compensation and Appreciation Bonanza" and had been advanced the cost of taxes plus an additional $1,000. To claim his winnings all he had to do was call a claim agent, wire $3,000 to a "Government tax agent" and wait for the money to come rolling in.
While the letter was full of tip-offs such as spelling errors, capitalization issues and a weird notice at the top claiming numerous financial services, the actual check was incredibly real looking; right down to a security image and perforated edge. One final glaring issue is the inclusion of three addresses and three businesses on the correspondence.
Here's a look at the check he received:
As well as the letter:
What a fake lottery check cashing scam looks like